BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo Beauts have announced they’ve signed veteran defenseman Paige Harrington to a one-year contract. This is Buffalo’s first signing of the offseason, as the NWHL progresses through the restricted free agency period.
Harrington was an integral part of a Beauts team that was the Isobel Cup runner-up in their inaugural season. One of only four Beauts that played in all 18 regular season games, Harrington continued her streak into the playoffs, playing in each of Buffalo’s five postseason games.
As Buffalo’s first re-sign, Harrington is excited to see how the team will look when camp starts.
“I feel very honored to be asked back to play another season. I know there will be amazing players to sign/re-sign in the upcoming months.”
Buffalo’s defense became a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the season. In a February interview, Harrington spoke about the development of the team, as well as her personal growth in the 2015-16 campaign.
“We had a lot of switch-ups with our roster, but in the past few weeks, we picked up the chemistry as a team. We got some wins and now we’re rolling.
“[Personally,] I’ve been working on my stick skills, and my shot, but mostly, my confidence. Getting out there and not having any fear. Playing with my heart. Our practice schedule is pretty strict – twice a week, and then we get extra ice time. It’s always very fast paced, and we take advantage of that time. ”
Harrington had three assists in her first season as a pro, and while she played a big role in Buffalo’s transition game, she excelled as one of the team’s elite shutdown defensemen. On a team that is notably diminutive, she stood out among her teammates at 5-foot-11, and has the physicality to match.
“This year I hope to come back and play physical and tough defense, but I also want to make a bigger difference in the offensive zone. Working on a harder, quicker shot this offseason is priority. I want to come back an even better player,” she told Today’s Slapshot
Often paired with the speedy Emily Pfalzer, Harrington did a fantastic job covering when her linemate would join the rush. Along with her size, her awareness was something that Buffalo could depend on – especially in the weeks following the All-Star Game, when the Beauts experienced the most success.
Buffalo played more games than any other team and Paige played in all 23, so she says she’s enjoying the offseason so far.
“It has been nice being home. I took some time off to relax and spend time with my family and friends; however, the workout grind is beginning! The offseason is the crucial time to work on my strength and skills.”
Harrington will draw the league minimum salary, which is important for the team in many regards. With the league’s roster size shrinking, five draft picks to sign, and the salary cap remaining the same, general manager Ric Seiling will have his work cut out for him if he is to re-sign many of the Beauts’ players from last season. For a team that was up against the cap in 2015-16, there is little wiggle room for the new GM to play with.
There will certainly be some new faces for Harrington when she comes back to the Queen City, but she is excited to return to her second home.
“I am looking forward to hearing the Buffalo Beauts fans cheering at the Harborcenter in the first home game of the season!”
Nearly two weeks have passed in the league’s RFA period, and things have been fairly slow. Connecticut has re-signed one player and New York has re-signed two. Boston’s signings may have been delayed by the fact that so many players took part in the World Championships in Kamloops, British Columbia at the end of March. It will be interesting to see who joins Harrington on the Beauts roster and who tests the waters of free agency.